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She Said, Z Said: Slaughterhouse Nagging
She: Wow. You have a fun reading list.
Z: He promised: “With the agreement that my wife will not nag, heckle or otherwise disturb me on the subject, I promise to scrub the bathroom and kitchen floors once a week, on a day and hour of my own choosing. Not only that, but I will do a good and thorough job ... If I do not live up to this agreement, my wife is to feel free to nag, heckle and otherwise disturb me until I am driven to scrub the floors anyway — no matter how busy I am.”
She: And she signed that? Sounds like a new bride. Never give away any nagging rights, especially when you’re pregnant. And no heckling? Seriously? How is that even a marriage?
Z: Clearly this is a man who did not like to be nagged. I can relate.
She: I don’t nag you.
Z: You mean you didn’t nag me about selling Koss’ old bikes on Craigslist for the last month?
She: That’s gentle reminding. And I think the key point there is the month-long timeline. Even Kurt Vonnegut was only given a week to complete his chores.
Z: We all move at our own pace.
She: Assuming there’s some sort of movement. Besides, there’s an extremely fine line between nagging and nudging. You sometimes respond as if I’m nagging when I’m really just nudging you along the right path.
Z: Stop nagging! OK — truthfully, you don’t nag me all that much.
She: That’s because you’re not as fun to nag as you should be. You get very annoyed, or tell me to do it myself. You’ve turned the fine art of nagging against me, like a highly skilled PTA president would.
She: It’s why you can never complain about PTA events; you’ll just get roped into planning them yourself. You’re a little like that with nagging. Sometimes you try to convince me I should just do the thing myself instead of nagging you about it.
Z: What I’m hearing is that you should do the thing yourself.
She: Or you get petulant, which isn’t as attractive as you’d think in a middle-aged man. Sometimes I have a very hard time believing that you’ve been attending the Leslie Dinaberg School of Perfect Partnerships for more than 20 years and you still haven’t graduated to perfection.
Z: Yes, that’s hard to imagine.
She: You still have to be nagged, er, nudged to do so many things.
Z: I have a very visceral response to nagging.
She: Gee, you think?
Z: It’s a childhood thing. If I hadn’t taken out the garbage by the fourth time my mother asked me to, she would keep asking. That drove me crazy.
She: The horror.
Z: But the worst thing was that inevitably, right before I was just about to take out the garbage all on my own, she would ask me to take it out for the seventh time. But I was just about to take it out! All on my own initiative! It killed the surprise factor, and I never got points for thinking to do it on my own.
She: You see ...
Z: And so, really, the nagging that I respond to most viscerally from you now is when you nag our recently teenaged son to do something.
She: Why do you even care?
Z: I don’t know. I really don’t know. But when you ask him to do something for the second time, I cringe.
She: Which is absurd, because he would probably forget his own head if it wasn’t screwed on. He would be completely lost if left to his own devices. Days, weeks, possibly even months would go by without him remembering to do anything. He’s even gone so far as to admit that his system for remembering all of the things he has to do is me!
Z: Which is the most mystifying thing of all. I’ve heard him actually request that you nag him. I want a DNA test.
She: Can you imagine what this place would look like if our son didn’t have me around to tell him to put his dishes in the dishwasher, his trash in the bin and his dirty socks in the hamper? It would be an absolute pigsty.
Z: Kind of like a Slaughterhouse.
She: Or a Welcome to the Monkey House.
Z: Yes, dear.
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